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When I see pickling cucumbers at the farmers market, I am the moth drawn to the flame. I must have them. And when I see fresh dill, I must have that, too. And then I make dill pickles, lots and lots of them. Sometimes, however, I find cucumbers but no dill, and for those times, I have my friend Pauline's bread and butter pickle recipe. Pauline, who left us for the great kitchen in the sky last year, taught me many complicated dishes, from her French-Canadian heritage and her stints living in other parts of the country, and she taught me this simple one. The only change I've made is to cut down on the sugar (and even at that, most of the sugar remains... Read more →


Years ago, while shopping at one of my favorite Latino grocery stores, Tropical Foods in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood, I bought a bottle of something labeled "Naranja Agria", sour orange juice. It was sour, alright -- I found out the hard way -- not a juice for drinking, but a juice to use as a marinade. Until recently, I'd forgotten all about sour orange. A few days ago, I had some regular orange juice in the refrigerator, and a pile of limes on the countertop, and the combination of the two approximates the flavor of that sour orange juice. It's not a concoction you'd want to drink for breakfast, but it does make a bright, fresh, quick marinade for chicken on the grill. Add a few... Read more →


When Barbara from California shared this photo of her built-in spice rack in Pantry #81, readers of The Perfect Pantry collectively sighed. This was indeed a perfect pantry! We all wanted one. Please visit the original post to learn more about Barbara's spice rack. Then, come back and let us know if you love Pantry #81 as much as I do. Read more →


While I don't buy much prepared food -- too much salt, too many additives -- I have absolutely no problem buying convenience foods when they're going to save me time in the kitchen. One of those products, broccoli slaw, tops the list, and I use it in salads all summer long. Just like cabbage-based cole slaw mix, broccoli slaw (a blend of julienned carrots and broccoli stems) absorbs almost any dressing. And it loves mix-ins, like nuts, fruit, shrimp or tofu. Toss broccoli slaw with a vinaigrette, yogurt, or some lemon or lime; all are tenderizers and will soften the broccoli the longer the salad sits in the dressing. Use your imagination, and poke around in the pantry; you're sure to come up with your... Read more →


For some reason, I seldom make couscous in cold weather, except when I cook a long-simmering tagine, for which couscous is the best possible base. I can't explain why, but I think of couscous more as a summer mix-in. It's quick to prepare (the instant variety, that is) and light, yet provides body to vegetable dishes and salads. In this recipe for couscous with shrimp, avocado, tomato and mint, the couscous fills in the little spaces in between, and it absorbs a bit of the lemon dressing that pulls everything together. It's a perfect picnic main course that you can make several hours ahead, and you can prepare some with shrimp and some without, for your vegan friends. Lemony couscous with shrimp, avocado, tomato and... Read more →


In my next life, I will marry a carpenter. Look at the wonderful shelving in Lili's Minnesota Pantry #74! I have shelf envy. Visit the original post to see more photos of these storage ideas, as well as more cubby holes, and more slots, and more drawers. Then, come back and let us know: do you love Pantry #74 as much as I do? Read more →


My friend Sarah has the greenest thumb of anyone I have ever known. On a small plot of land in the local community garden, she grows a lush variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables. Recently a big bunch of her mint, newly trimmed, found its way to my kitchen -- thank you, thank you -- so much, so fragrant, that I wanted to keep it forever. Well, not forever, but for the summer, and I think I found a way. In the freezer, I found a bag of chopped walnut pieces, intended for baking in cookies. Into the food processor went the large bunch of mint leaves, plus walnuts and a few more things from the pantry. Voila! A mild-tasting, yet garlicky, pesto that's perfect... Read more →